The Benefits of Pueraria Mirifica

A remedy for hot flashes and bone health?
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Pueraria mirifica is a plant native to Thailand and Burma. The roots of the plant have been found to contain compounds thought to act as phytoestrogens (plant compounds that can have estrogen-like effects in the body).

Also known as kwao krua or "Thai kudzu", Pueraria mirifica is sometimes used as a natural remedy for symptoms experienced by women during menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

Uses for Pueraria Mirifica

Pueraria mirifica is touted as a natural remedy for the following health issues:

It's also said to enhance libido, support weight loss, soften skin, and prevent heart disease. Additionally, Pueraria mirifica is purported to promote breast growth and increase breast firmness.

The Benefits of Pueraria Mirifica

Here's a look at several findings from studies on the potential benefits of Pueraria mirifica:

Menopausal Symptoms

Although research on the use of Pueraria mirifica is fairly limited, several small studies indicate that the herb may help to alleviate some menopausal symptoms.

In a study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand in 2004, for instance, Pueraria mirifica appeared to improve vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats) in women going through menopause. For the study, 48 women received either 50 mg or 100 mg of Pueraria mirifica once daily for six months.

In evaluating the 37 women who completed the study, researchers found that both groups experienced a decrease in vasomotor symptoms.

In addition, a study published in the journal Menopause in 2017 found that Pueraria mirifica may help improve vaginal health. In their analysis of 82 postmenopausal women given a Pueraria mirifica gel or a conjugated estrogen cream for 12 weeks, the study's authors observed that both groups experienced an improvement in vaginal symptoms.

Bone Health

Estrogen plays a key role in regulating bone turnover (a biological process in which old bone is broken down and replaced with new bone). In a study published in Menopause in 2008, researchers found that Pueraria mirifica may help preserve bone health in postmenopausal women by producing an estrogen-like effect on bone turnover rate. The study included 71 women (ages 45 to 60), each of whom was given either Pueraria mirifica or a placebo for 24 weeks.

Side Effects

Little is known about the safety and side effects of pueraria mirifica. Due to Pueraria mirifica's purported estrogen-like effects, it's possible that the herb may have similar side effects to estrogen, such as bloating, stomach cramps, breast tenderness, swelling, pain, headache, weight changes, changes in menstrual periods, or breakthrough bleeding.

There's some concern that this herb may be harmful to people with certain health conditions (such as asthmadiabetes, epilepsy, and migraines) or may interact with medications such as anticoagulants (blood-thinners), thyroid medication, diabetes medication, birth control pills, or tamoxifen.

What's more, Pueraria mirifica should be used with extreme caution by people with hormone-sensitive conditions (including hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer and ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn't take Pueraria mirifica.

Also, keep in mind that dietary supplements aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Products have been found to contain ingredients not listed on the label or different amounts than what is listed on the label.

Where to Find It

You can find dietary supplements containing Pueraria mirifica in many natural-foods stores and drugstores. Pueraria mirifica supplements can also be purchased online.

The Takeaway

Due to the lack of large-scale clinical trials, it's too soon to recommend Pueraria mirifica as a treatment for any condition.

 If you're still considering using it, be sure to consult your primary care provider first.

Sources:

Chandeying V, Sangthawan M. Efficacy comparison of Pueraria mirifica (PM) against conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) with/without medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) in the treatment of climacteric symptoms in perimenopausal women: phase III study. J Med Assoc Thai. 2007 Sep;90(9):1720-6.

Lamlertkittikul S, Chandeying V. Efficacy and safety of Pueraria mirifica (Kwao Kruea Khao) for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms in perimenopausal women: Phase II Study. J Med Assoc Thai. 2004 Jan;87(1):33-40.

Manonai J, Chittacharoen A, Udomsubpayakul U, Theppisai H, Theppisai U. Effects and safety of Pueraria mirifica on lipid profiles and biochemical markers of bone turnover rates in healthy postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2008 May-Jun;15(3):530-5.

Suwanvesh N, Manonai J, Sophonsritsuk A, Cherdshewasart W. Comparison of Pueraria mirifica gel and conjugated equine estrogen cream effects on vaginal health in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2017 Feb;24(2):210-215.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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